When the Ford Thunderbird arrived in 1955, it literally blew past the Corvette in both sales and popularity, giving General Motors pause to reconsider the Corvette's future. It was the beginning of the short-lived but exciting sports car wars which revved up in 1955 and ended abruptly in 1957, when Ford Motor Company ceased production of the two-passenger Thunderbird. Although its fate had been sealed, the Thunderbird went out with a bang in '57, building 194 supercharged "F" models equipped with McCulloch centrifugal superchargers, which gave the cars a whipping 300 hp. The T-Bird had already established itself as a more practical sports car than its bow-tie wearing competitor, with power windows, a choice of automatic or manual transmission, and a removable hardtop, all features Chevrolet quickly adopted for the Corvette. However, the Thunderbird had them first.

The Thunderbird was an unequalled success beginning with its introduction in 1955, and by its third season had garnered a reputation which stunned even the high aspirations of the Ford company. America was literally in love with the little Thunderbird. Its provocative styling and sporty nature was naturally chronicled in newspapers and magazines, magnified in the movies and immortalized in song.

Noel Blanc, whose collection this car is part of, had a strong admiration for the rare "F" model ever since his father Mel Blanc had shown him the stunning performance of the supercharged model. In 1988 Mr. Blanc located this original "F" model in a collection in Texas.

The car had recently benefited from a frame-off restoration and was an ideal addition to the Blanc collection. Photos of the restoration accompany this car. For those interested in matching numbers, this car come with its original factory delivery note and a detailed inventory of the components stamping from the previous owner in 1988, signifying the correct numbers for a 1957 "F" model.

The car was originally supplied in Raven black and the total sticker price including all the accessories was $3702.57. When new, the supercharger cost and extra $340, the Ford-O-Matic transmission $150, the power brakes and steering $74.55, electric window $48 and the signal-seek radio $79.60, to mention a few items from the original sticker invoice. Interestingly, this car was delivered new to the Walker Motor Company on Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, a very short distance from where the car has resided for the past nine years.

Since joining the Blanc collection, this very fine looking example has had very limited use. In 1990 the highly respected Thunderbird specialist Jim Weatherly of Weatherly Classique Cars gave the car a thorough service and check over. Since this time the car has been carefully cared for by Bill Larzelere. This car was featured on the cover of the Summer 1992 Beverly Hills Motoring Accessories catalogue.

This rare 1957 "F" model in Coral Sand is equipped with all the factory options including Dial-O-Matic power seat, power windows, Town & Country signal seeking radio that automatically increases the volume in proportion to the speed of the engine, and both hard and soft tops. In 1957 the last great battle of the sports cars went to the supercharged Thunderbird, the rarest (with only 194 produced) and most desirable American two-seater of the era.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1957 Ford Thunderbird F-Series Factory Supercharged

This “F” Bird brought a staggering $145,500 when it sold at the Christie’s Pebble Beach auction this year [1997]. While most of the attention went to the Ferraris and Jaguars, they made prices well within market expectations. However, the 1957 fuel-injected Corvette and this F-code Thunderbird were the true stars of the show.

A normal, non-supercharged ’57 Bird in this condition might bring upwards of $40,000. Normally, a buyer can add fifty to sixty percent to a T-Bird’s value if it has a factory supercharger. However, this car made a 250% premium over a base price of $40,000.

The sale price of this car demonstrated the magic of the auction arena. In this case, Christie’s carefully researched and presented this car, then properly promoted it to bring it the appropriate, well-heeled buyers who were ready to open their checkbooks. In no way does this sale reflect or change the market for F-code T-Birds. Rather, its sale was a visual exhibition of at least a pair of powerful checkbooks backed by similarly determined egos. – ED.

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